Here are some common-sense tips to help you pick the Best Business for your job. They will help you get a good result and avoid costly mistakes.
Top Things to Think About
- Be wary of the Cheapest Quote
- Verify Businesses Information: eg Star-ratings, Licences, Insurance
- Don’t Pay Big Up-front Deposits
- Get a Signed Contract
Look for Reasonable Pricing
Be wary of the cheapest business. Things can be too good to be true. If a businesses quotes well below others, something’s probably not right.
Professional businesses know their value, so be careful if price is the only reason why you’re hiring a business – make sure they understand the full scope of the job, are using quality materials and are qualified.
Ask Lots of Questions
Ask as many questions and tell them exactly what outcome you want.
Some things to ask include:
- Pictures of past work. These days most good businesses will have a ton of pictures on their phones ready to show potential clients.
- References from past customers. Call referees, especially for high value jobs.
- If they need a licence to work. See below for more on Licences.
- If they’re subcontracting the job, or if they are doing it themselves. If they are subcontracting, ask them to provide the details of the subcontractor.
Pick a Good Communicator
Good businesses are usually great communicators. So you should be comfortable with how a business communicates with you before you decide to hire them.
Do they sound professional? Do they respond quickly to your questions? You need to feel comfortable you’re dealing with someone you can trust. Be wary of businesses who are pushy or rude.
Check Star Ratings & Reviews
Look for businesses with a decent Star Rating (over 4.5 stars) and lots of reviews. A business might not have any ratings on ServiceSeeking.com.au if they’re new to our site. In that case you can look for reviews from other sites.
Do Some Online Research
Good businesses normally have many listings on the internet. If you Google the name of the business who’s quoted, you’ll normally find their own business website, Facebook or LinkedIn pages, listings on other business directories, and on Industry and Government websites.
Be very wary if you Google the name of a business and nothing comes up.
Check Trade Licences
Many trades need a Contractor’s Licence, though this depends on regulations in each State, or the price of the job.
If a business has given us their Trade Licence, you can see the licence number and authorising agency listed on their Business Profile.
Who needs a Contractor’s Licence?
Plumbers, Gasfitters, Electricians, Air-conditioning Technicians, Asbestos Removalists who do dangerous or specialty work almost ALWAYS need a licence. Locksmiths and Security Firms also need licences.
Businesses doing jobs worth $3000 or more – Builders, Bathroom/Kitchen Renovations, Painting, Concreting etc – should also be licensed, though there are exceptions.
Handymen, Cleaners, Gardeners, Furniture and Rubbish Removalists generally don’t need licences.
For more about who needs a licence, please see information below in your state:
- Fair Trading NSW
- Consumer Affairs VIC
- QLD Building and Construction Commission
- WA Department of Commerce
- SA Trade Licensing
- TAS Consumer, Building and Occupational Services
If a business on ServiceSeeking.com.au has an “Insured” badge on their Business Profile, they’ve sent us a copy of the Certificate of Currency of their 3rd Party Liability Insurance.
You can ask a business which insurances they have and to show you their Insurance Certificate of Currency.
We ask our Business Account Holders to complete an online identity check. To pass the ID check a business must provide information from government issued documents including Driver’s Licence, Passport, or Medicare Cards. The system checks that this information matches the government databases.
If a business hasn’t passed this Background Check, we’ll flag their Business Profile. Be wary of businesses who haven’t completed our Background check.
Business Account Holders can opt to complete an online Police Check. Businesses who have completed this have a Police Check badge on their Business Profile.
For businesses with multiple workers, this does not guarantee the specific person you’re working with has passed a background check, so be sure you’re comfortable with the person completing your request.
Having an ABN is an indicator of trustworthiness, albeit a weak one. It means a business is registered with the Australian Tax Office, but doesn’t authorise the business to do any specific kind of work.
We ask businesses to provide us with their ABN (Australian Business Number) and we verify the number against the Australian Business Register (ABR). You can see the ABR listing by clicking on the link on our Business Profile.
Check the Business Details Match
If a Business Name, ABN, and Trade Licence info match, and the business has other listings online with matching details, that’s a good sign.
If a Business Name, ABN or Trade Licence listing do not match, or the phone number or address listed elsewhere on the internet is different to the one they’ve given you, you should be wary.
The ABR and Trade Licence databases in each state are publicly searchable, so it’s possible for a business to pass another businesses’ information off as their own.
Sign a Contract
When it comes time to hire a business we recommend you get a written contract in place. The contract should list what’s to be done with the payment terms including deposits, milestone, and final payments.
A contract or quote signed by both you and the business is best. It should have the Business Name, ABN, Trade Licence, Business Address and Contact Information included.
Professional Businesses will have a standard contract or quotation form, so start by asking them to draw one up for you. If a business doesn’t have a standard contract, they’re probably inexperienced at best, or shonky at worst.
For small jobs an email or text message thread may be more practical than a contract. A verbal agreement is not very useful if you have a disagreement.
Be Wary When Paying Deposits
Some businesses will ask you to pay a deposit. This is generally OK, though in rare instances it can expose you to being ripped off – there are scammers are out there who ask for deposits and don’t follow through with the job.
Here are some tips to ensure you are protected:
- Don’t pay the full amount upfront unless the job is very small (a few hundred dollars at most).
- A deposit may be reasonable depending on the situation. NEVER pay a significant amount as a deposit until you’ve signed a written contract and have double-checked the businesses credentials yourself including their trade licences and insurance.
- Some businesses may ask for a deposit for materials. This can also be OK, but you should be wary if the amount is significant. If you’re uncomfortable about paying, ask to pay the supplier for the materials yourself.